U.S. Senate Republicans ready police reform bill to rival Democrats

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Police reforms will take center stage in Congress on Wednesday as Senate Republicans unveil their effort to address racial disparities in law enforcement and Democrats in the House of Representatives advance their own, more sweeping proposal.

More than three weeks after George Floyd’s killing in police custody spurred protests nationwide, Senator Tim Scott, the chamber’s lone black Republican, is expected to propose legislation that would discourage the use of chokeholds, require police departments to release more information on use of force and no-knock warrants, and encourage body cameras and better training.

Democrats are scheduled to advance a bill out of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee that would ban chokeholds, set tighter standards for the use of deadly force, and make it easier for victims of misconduct and their families to sue police.

Floyd’s death in Minneapolis on May 25 after a policeman knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes was the latest in a string of killings of African Americans by police that have sparked anger on America’s streets and fresh calls for reforms.

But officials in Washington appear increasingly at odds over how to respond.

Democrats say the Republican plan does not go far enough, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Democrats’ legislation would go nowhere in his chamber, dismissing it as “typical Democratic overreach.”

“I worry in this moment, I really do, that we’re going to repeat history, that this is the movie, ‘Groundhog Day,’ because here we are again in a nightmare, not a comedy,” said Senator Cory Booker, a black lawmaker who helped craft the Democratic bill.

Facing criticism over his policies and inflammatory rhetoric, President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed an order that would steer federal money to police departments that agree to outside review and limit the use of chokeholds.

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